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Expand chart
Data: Ministry of Health DRC; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo showed a recent spike, despite concerted efforts by public health workers and international organizations, mainly due active pockets of community resistance to vaccination and the dangers posed to health care workers in active conflict zones that halt or delay key treatment measures.

What's new: DRC's Ministry of Health reports that, as of October 10, the cases of confirmed and probable infections spiked to 200, with 90 confirmed deaths and 26 suspected cases under investigation. However, the World Health Organization warns these numbers are "likely underestimated."

WHO yesterday issued a statement:

"These rising trends are likely underestimated given expected delays in case reporting, the ongoing detection of sporadic cases, and security concerns which limit contact tracing and investigation of alerts."

Political strife: The conflict in DRC stems from the 1994 Rwanda genocide, which has led to "at least 70 armed groups fighting in the eastern region of the country," according to an editorial in The Lancet.

  • And, the BBC has a DRC profile, which includes a timetable of the conflict, background on the political situation, and covers the elections which were delayed twice since 2016 and are scheduled for this December.

Anti-vaxx movement: The ministry describes its continual campaign to inform skeptical citizens to get vaccinated and to follow the protocols for this disease, which remains infectious in the body after death.

  • In one case this week, the family of a person who died from Ebola stole the body on its way to be safely buried and then used a mob of young people in the community to forcibly keep police away.
  • This particular situation was later resolved — a community meeting was held, the body was retrieved, and several family members said they planned to get vaccinated — but it demonstrates some of the elements the ministry is fighting against.

Meanwhile, The Lancet editorial warns that the challenges faced by DRC may be an indication of the changing nature of war in being a more protracted affair. Per the editorial:

"Violence and conflict are compounders of public health crises. What is happening in DR Congo means that a fragile political situation, a complex virus, and a raging conflict puts the whole world under threat."

Go deeper:

Go deeper

32 mins ago - Health

Pfizer begins clinical trial for Omicron-specific COVID vaccine

A health worker in Palestine preparing a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech's coronavirus vaccine on Jan. 24. Photo: Majdi Fathi/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Pfizer and BioNTech announced Tuesday that they have started clinical trials for a reformulated vaccine to protect against the Omicron coronavirus variant.

Why it matters: The rise of the Omicron variant has forced vaccine makers to reassess the effectiveness of their vaccines.

Retail stock traders power stunning comeback after deep selloff

Illustration: Megan Robinson/Axios

Stocks staged a Patrick Mahomes-esque comeback Monday, after plunging for the first few hours of trading.

Why it matters: The remarkable recovery suggests that retail traders who upended markets over the last year — most notably during the GameStop bonanza that occurred almost exactly a year ago — continue to be powerful influence in the markets.

America can't quit polarizing politicians

Expand chart
Data: NewsWhip; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

New data finds that the nation's most polarizing politicians are often the ones that garner the most attention online.

Why it matters: Online engagement helps politicians build a bigger national profile and more fundraising power, incentivizing them be more outrageous, more polarizing and more divisive.